It is hard to think of a less sexy facet of advertising than the humble product demo. In the early 20th century, as the Western World was first seduced by the frenetic rhythms of mass consumer culture, product demonstration was a fundamental part of any brand launch. This washing powder will get your whites brighter. This vacuum cleaner will pick up 40% more dirt. Yet the last ten years of communication have been dominated by more intangible, but equally important concepts like brand value, perception and loyalty. The product demo seemed just so last century.
A couple of brands, most notably Apple and Dyson, stuck to their guns. Simple videos showing off their products projected a belief in the power of innovation, whilst hinting that the brand was in fact the least important weapon in their arsenal – ironically creating two extremely strong brands in the process.
However, a series of innovative marketing campaigns is heralding the return of the product demonstration.
Gatorades’ Cannes Lion Grand Prix winning ‘Replay’, a branded content initiative in which aging athletes were reunited with old team mates and trained by Gatorade to perform at the highest level, was a product demonstration that attracted considerable interest from Hollywood movie studios. (This has to be a first).
Google launched their OS Chrome with an interactive YouTube game showing the speed at which the system operates. Players had to solve a series of puzzles in superquick time – but the browser was always faster. Even the most literal of product demonstrations – the test drive – has gone digital.
In Brazil, Volkswagen launched the Amarok, a medium sized pick-up truck, with a test drive controlled by users via their mobile phones. Online video showed the car haring round some seriously rough terrain, as consumers spoke directions – ‘turn left’, ‘go down the dirt stairs’ etc, and the car obeyed. Over one week, VW ran 327 live tests in front of half a million unique visitors, each spending an average of six and a half minutes on the site. The final result? 7392 online purchase intentions.
Perhaps the most synchronous synergy of product demonstration and marketing campaign came in the form of Sydney-based Happy Soldiers’ campaign for Virgin Money and the new Flyer credit card. The agency paid for an entire integrated campaign on the card itself – thus generating enough points for free flights around the world for 200 lucky winners.
What can we learn from this? That, as with all forms of marketing, the opportunities for interaction afforded by digital media can breathe new life into the most tired of formats. And whilst what you say is extremely important, it’s what you do that counts.